Are you Avoiding Following-Up?
Having taught hundreds of heart-centred business owners over the past several years I know that the aspect of sales that many people find the most difficult and uncomfortable is the Follow up.
You know what I mean, you meet someone while networking. You introduce yourself with your Captivating Introduction. They indicate that they might be interested in what you do. And at this stage this might be no more than a mere indication. Especially if they are British – we do tend to be quite low key, especially when we are interested – after all the last thing we want to do is give someone the “wrong idea” and end up being “sold” to!
So you arrange with them that you will follow up in the next couple of days to have a more detailed conversation to explore whether working together would be a good fit (so far so good), and you go home full of excitement.
But then the next day you start to ask yourself:
“Should I really call them?”
“Maybe they were just being polite”
“If I contact them doesn’t this make me just the same as the people who ring me up to sell me a PPI refund or a new boiler?”
“What if they reject me and then I’ll feel bad?”
“Actually I’m sure they are very busy, too busy to want to talk to me”
“Oh yes, they very busy, so I’d better not disturb them, after all I’m a nice person”
“So OK, I will leave it for a few days until I feel it’s a better moment”
“And of course if they really want to work with me they will call me won’t they?”
Well NO! They won’t!
You could almost say that there is an unspoken etiquette here – your client is waiting for you to make the first move.
And if you are not doing that you could be amazed at how many opportunities you are missing out on.
Here are some examples of my own:
A couple of years ago I was actively looking for a new accountant and I met one at an event. He didn’t have a card on him so he said he’d call me on Tuesday (so far so good – he was maintaining control of the follow up). But the week rolled by and no call, and another week, and I started to wonder. Is he nervous about following up? Or is he just disorganised and unreliable? I couldn’t tell… He did eventually call, but my faith in him as a professional was already damaged.
The Project Manager
In September last year I had a conversation with someone about managing a technical project within my business. For a number of reasons it wasn’t the right time for me to get started. So we agreed that she would contact me again in the first week of December to get the ball rolling. First week of December rolled by. Second week. And now we are on the cusp of March, and this month I’ve been talking to other providers about taking on the project.
But I’m the client you might be thinking, if I want her help why don’t I just call her?
Well, that’s because as the client we also “make up stories” about what other people are thinking:
“She’s probably had a change of business direction and no longer interested in projects like mine”
“She must be fully booked and doesn’t need any new clients”
“She knew how serious I was so if she wanted to work with me she would call”
So you see, your client expects that if you want the business you will make the first move.
These examples are just two of many I could share. And they represent a lot of missed business – I can guarantee I wouldn’t have been the only client that they lost out on due to not following up confidently.
So my message today?
Do it politely. Do it respectfully. By all means allow the potential client to decide if they are serious and want to go ahead – but your job is to be letting them know that you are right there and available for them if they want to explore things with you.
Not following up isn’t being “non-pushy” – it’s being non-supportive and it doesn’t serve anyone.
Being “non-pushy” is making a solid follow up but also making it clear to the client that they can have an exploratory conversation with no obligation.
It is respecting them if they tell you that now isn’t a good time and arranging a more convenient time to speak.
It is taking “no” for an answer
But being “non-pushy” is most definitely not hiding at home making excuses not to reach out.
And most clients will thank you for a polite and respectful follow up – I promise!
P.S. This post was inspired by a recent dating scenario. As you might know I’m a happy single and don’t tend to date much. But I recently had a chance meeting on a train with a man who I chatted to all the way from Bicester to Warwick Parkway. He intrigued me and I felt disappointed when he didn’t ask for my number. So on my way home I decided to make the first move. Just like you do on your way home from those networking events.
But then I got home and I did nothing.
Instead I spent a whole week making up stories:
“If he wanted to hear from me again he would have asked for my number”
“He’s probably too busy with his work to be interested”
“Anyway he’s probably married”
And then I realised what I was doing! Exactly what I tell my clients not to do – I was “making up stories” and then using them as an excuse not to take action
So I found him on Linkedin and sent him a message (OK, I did have to take a deep breath first!). And he replied. He said he was glad I had tracked him down and asked if I’d like to meet up sometime.
It just goes to show – it’s all in the Follow Up!